Blues of the Blues
Posted on October 17th, 2017

Editorial Courtesy The Island

The SLFP is apparently in the suicidal mode. What may be described as a bloodless version of the Night of the Long Knives has debilitated it as never before; several popular party organisers, in the dissident group, have been sacked. The mega purge is far from over. The next few weeks are likely to see many more senior party organisers being ousted.

There has been a severe erosion of public faith in the two main parties which have been in the clutches of self-serving politicians and, therefore, one may not care a damn about what happens to either the SLFP or the UNP. But, the problem is that democracy suffers whenever one of the main parties gets enervated and fails to be a counterweight to the other in power. The SLFP-led United Front government (1970-77) and the UNP administration (1977-94) felt no need to act responsibly because the main Opposition parties were too feeble to offer resistance. They thought the sky was the limit. The Rajapaksa government could abuse power and indulge in corruption to its heart’s content because the UNP remained faction-ridden and weak.

At present, both the SLFP and the UNP are honeymooning and savouring power together, but they are all out to weaken each other as one gathers from the utterances of their big guns at daggers drawn. What the UNP has craftily done to the SLFP during the past couple of years reminds us how the proverbial fox which fell into an abandoned well escaped; it lured an inquisitive goat into plunging in, leapt on to the latter’s back and got out. The day is sure to dawn sooner or later when the UNP-SLFP marriage of convenience is over and the two parties have to take on each other. If the SLFP continues to debilitate itself at this rate with its leaders and dissidents settling their personal scores, the country may find itself in a situation similar to the one from 1977 to 1994.

Interestingly, the present-day defenders of the SLFP are the very ones who brought down the SLFP-led UPFA government in 2015. Their defection had nothing to do with any love for democracy. They were disgruntled because of the Rajapaksas’ one-family show. After ousting the ruling clan, they again ruined the SLFP’s chances of winning the last general election so as to queer the pitch for former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who wanted to make a comeback as the prime minister. Having weakened the SLFP and achieved their political goals they are now trying to revitalise the party while those who defended the party in 2015 are on a mission to ensure its defeat at future elections! There has been a role reversal.

It is a supreme irony that President Maithripala Sirisena, who left the SLFP and contested the last presidential election on the New Democratic Front ticket, is now taking action against the SLFP dissidents promoting the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna. The Rajapaksas who vilified Sirisena as a traitor for decamping are doing exactly what they condemned him for. If the SLFP leaders and dissidents think anyone will believe in their claim that they are fighting among themselves out of their love for the party, they are mistaken.

If it was to be left to the discerning public to decide who really loves the party and, therefore, deserves to lead it, they will adopt the same modus operandi as wise judge, Azdak, in The Caucasian Chalk Circle in arriving at a decision. No one who feels for his or her party and places it before self cannot bring himself or herself to fight for either retaining or grabbing its leadership at the expense of its wellbeing, much less engineer its defeat.

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